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Ringing in the New Year of 2019, single, 55 and surrounded by friends at the beach, proclaiming that this was going to be our best year. Then a big scratch on the record. January 15th, I had a past due mammogram, which led to a hurried biopsy and by Januarys end I was given a diagnosis of Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. I didn’t cry, I in fact busted out into laughter, leading my oncologist to believe that I might be crazy. I mean, what kind of joke was this? My best year for what? Death and dying?

By March, I was debilitated by aggressive chemotherapy, pulling chunks of hair out, unable to work and plowing through my savings account to keep up with the mounting medical bills. This seemed so insane. My daughter wasn’t even out of college yet. I had a lifetime of memories to make with my kids and future grandchildren. My head was filled with so many unknowns.

I made it through the first year, penniless and on disability, bald, twenty pounds heavier, but with some amazing new friends, with similar experiences and struggles. The journey, if you open yourself up, is the positive side of this disease. All your self-made barriers are removed and the things that you once thought were important no longer mattered. Every day since my diagnosis has been both a wonder and a challenge.

  1. Wow. Covid hits, I am more isolated than I was my first year in chemotherapy. I could no longer meet with my fellow survivors for yoga, prayer group and therapy. I lost most of my existing friends at the beach because my life was now much different than theirs.

A former high school classmate from Pennsylvania reached out to me through social media. We spent hours reconnecting over the phone and talking about my challenges. After he drove across the country to visit and profess his long-time love for me, he asked if he could buy us a place so that I would never have to worry about housing insecurities and could solely focus on healing. My vulnerable self was awestruck. I agreed on the condition that I was co-owner and contributor to the home. We quickly realized that I could not have my name on the title since I was on state medical at that time. We agreed that could be changed later. I put all the utilities and land lease in my name in this 55 plus community and have paid them for the past 30 months, which was supposed to go towards my ownership. Life felt good. I was feeling good, although still in treatment. We were doing things together as a couple. I felt a little safer and at ease.

My first grandbaby was born in October, 2020 and I gained a new daughter in law. What a blessing in my life. Although I could not yet travel to see them in Texas, I was over the moon with feelings of love and excitement.

2020 ended with my father and life force passing away on 12/26. I was mourning and less active from the sadness of his loss, which led to my starting the new year of 2021 with a Pulmonary Embolism, which I was sure was my demise.  Thankfully I made it through.  I think that Daddy Bird put in a good word for me.

Things were going great, until they weren’t with my partner. He reared his other side. Before I knew it, he was ghosting me, he was taking trips with his sister, we were sleeping in separate rooms, and he was drunk daily and unkind.  I was not sleeping but just kept trying to manage with whatever was going on, trying to communicate with him, but getting nowhere. My saving grace was that things were starting to resume post covid. I slowly started getting back to some of my cancer survivor activities, as the world was opening back up, which was helpful to keep my focus on healing.

Two days after I had partial mastectomy in March 2022, he announced that he was moving back to PA and abandoned me. I was completely devastated and profoundly hurt by his actions and lack of empathy. With looming 30 weeks of radiation, I was in complete shock. It felt like the one person that I was supposed to be able to lean on, was the one person causing me the most harm.  Thankfully my kids are giving me reasons to live and are nurturing my healing process.  I just kept trying to heal, while trying not to stress about my living situation. Thankfully, my granddaughter was born. The most beautiful diversion and another blessing in my life. My hope never ceases.

I ended up with Covid right before I was supposed to start radiation and then wound care, because my wound was not healing, I had to be taken off chemotherapy to raise my ANC and low white blood counts so that I could withstand the wound care and radiation. It was a lot of pain, both physically and mentally. I had an open wound that was surrounded by burnt skin, in addition to fatigue and depression.  Driving 60 miles, alone, round trip every day during the time when fuel has skyrocketed to over $6 a gallon and driving a car with over 180,000 miles did not help matters. Still retaining hope and a light sense of humor, I continued my battle.

It was June 30th, not even half way through radiation treatments, I was standing in line at the grocery store when my sister called to break the news that my momma had passed. She had dementia and she would have been mortified to know that she was not there for me. I was glad that she did not have to see me going through this.

The mysteries of life are astounding. How does one person sort through so many different emotions in such a short period of time? It is a lot, I can’t lie.  I have realized my strength and feel like a warrior at times. But I have lost my footing in this housing crisis and am facing being without a home, as my former partner has begun the eviction process. Rents are double what they were before I changed housing situations in 2020. I can’t move out of state, because of my healthcare and treatment program, as well as my support system.

I usually just roll with the punches and keep trying to figure things out. No one should have to experience housing insecurities, and yet it has plagued our country like covid has. Not all homeless people are addicts or are burdened with mental health issues. I had a career until I became disabled with cancer. This can happen to anyone. You have no idea how quickly your savings can be depleted trying to stay above water with medical bills, living expenses and your only transportation is a 2005 vehicle, until you are faced with it.  SSDI is not life sustaining in any economy.

So- here i am doing something that i am not truly comfortable with, but if I have learned something this 4 years from my battle with cancer… it’s that we must ask for help. I just want to focus all my energy on healing and enjoying the remaining days of my life with my children and grandbabies, free from having to worry about having a roof over my head and drowning in medical expenses and attorney fees. Help me not be afraid that I will ever give up my battle due to financial reasons. Help me to be able to afford to find another place to live and keep a roof over my head. Help.


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